Chicago-based duo Hobbyist are no noobs when it comes to creating a weirdo sound of their own. They formed the strange electronica project, I Luv Luv Birds, back in '04 but dropped the name and started anew as Hobbyist. As a garage-y indie rock band, Holly Prindle sings and Marc Mozga provides the guitar, bass, melodica, and drum machine programming. They've just released their first full-length as Hobbyist, a self-titled, angsty ride that lets its electronic roots show but incorporates a lil bit o' post-rock goodness.
Unlike many garage punk bands out there, Hobbyist’s album is well-produced, rather than lo-fi. And it’s best that way, so we can hear every quiver of Mozga’s voice and every screech of Prindle’s. That’s not to say there isn’t a bit of distortion here and there. For example, Prindle yelps her way through the reverb-filled “Head of Cliché” like a distant relative of Karen O.
The power of her talk-sing style is best heard on “Soulless Lies” where Prindle brings jazzy vibes to the table, à la Phoebe Killdeer. Over a simple piano melody, she chants, “Goddamn soulless lies/ Get back under your rock and hide/ You’re in my home, my car, my phone, my building, my mind” with a strength remniscent of PJ Harvey that tells you to shut up and listen. Another highlight comes with the layering of vocals on “October of ‘43” over a sparse bass line. On “My Kid” we hear an almost Tom Waits-esque rumble in Mozga, as the two craft a dark, twisted storyline that leads into a somewhat anti-climactic finale.
But the twosome’s intense energy and obvious passion pulls everything together and the good definitely overshadows the not as good. It’s no wonder their genre is self-described “outsider rock,” as it’s pretty rare to encounter a band that can combine garage, jazz, post-rock, psych-weirdness, and electronica into a solid record.
Pick up Hobbyist by hoppin’ over here! And/or catch them live at one of their shows in their hometown of Chicago at Township on May 22nd and Quencher’s on June 20th. You can also stream some of the album on their website.
Photos via Riot Act Media